Orange Goblin are one of the reasons for the music I listen to today. I use them to introduce people to good music, just as they saved me from a world of terrible pop, something I’ll be forever grateful for. They’re heavy with the perfect amount of blues influence, they celebrated their 25th year anniversary last year, plus their band name is awesome!
Getting Joe Hoare’s insights into how he approaches the guitar is mind blowing. He has some fantastic advice and goes into great detail about song writing. It’s advice I’ll certainly be using myself and I hope that it’ll also be of use to our dear readers as well.
This interview was conducted prior to their recent live streams, which also marked the final shows with bassist, and founding member, Martyn Millard, who has now called it a day after 26 years. He’s been replaced by long standing friend Harry Armstrong, a name people might recognise from his time with Decomposed, Hangnail, Earls Of Mars, End Of Level Boss and Blind River.
we’ll then jam on it and pretend we’re in Cream (well I do anyway), adding bits that we think will sound cool…
I’ve been an Orange Goblin fan for many years so this is an incredible opportunity. There are too many good songs to pick out a few but, I’ll go with Blue Snow, If It Ain’t Broke, Break It and Hard Luck are some of my current favorites. What is your writing process like to create these epic songs?
Hi Josh. Thank you so much for the kind words and glad you’re digging the band! Well, every song we write varies slightly, but the normal formula, especially on the three songs you’ve listed generally start simply with a riff. Me, or one of the other guys, will normally have a main riff that we dig, we’ll then jam on it and pretend we’re in Cream (well I do anyway), adding bits that we think will sound cool. It’s amazing how quickly ideas start flowing once we start working on them, although it can sometimes take a while to get that first bit going.
We will then all get together and dissect it, everyone adds their ideas until it starts to gel and we then have a track that we’ve all collaborated on. Very much a team effort. With Hard Luck I wrote the whole thing, minus the vocals and lyrics as that’s Ben’s [Ward – vocals] job, and what you hear on the album is pretty much exactly how I envisioned it, but most of the time, the guys will have a listen to my initial idea and change a few bits around… organise it a little bit etc. Ben wrote the main riff for Blue Snow. He had the riff pop into his head and just sung it to me. And If It Ain’t Broke was just a bunch of random riffs that I’d written over a period time that had been gathering and we just glued it together!
There are a finite number of notes and an infinite amount of music. How do you create unique music without repeating yourself or others?
Personally, I don’t put too much thought into it, by that I mean I don’t stress if a riff sounds too much like Sabbath, or if something isn’t ‘metal’ or ‘rock’ enough. We all have so many musical tastes and the guys are always very keen to try out new ideas. So, whatever I’m feeling that day, be it a bluesy idea or something that reminds me of ABBA, it all gets recorded at home and played to the band.
And yes, a lot of it is politely declined but you’ll be surprised how much ‘odd’ stuff makes it on to albums and ends up sounding like an Orange Goblin song once we’ve worked it out. On the flip side we also enjoy writing songs that do sound like other bands. Chris wrote The Devil’s Whip with the idea that it should sound like a Motörhead song. I guess it’s our way of paying tribute to the bands we love.
I don’t stress if a riff sounds too much like Sabbath, or if something isn’t ‘metal’ or ‘rock’ enough…
I’ve interviewed a lot of newer bands recently and sometimes ask, as a new band, what are some things you’ve had to overcome. You guys have been killing it since 1995! What difficulties, if any, do you guys face as a band that’s been around 26 years now?
The biggest one for me was having to juggle bringing a young family and touring, especially around 2012/13 where we were constantly on tour and not seeing our wives and kids for weeks on end, that was incredibly hard for me. It helps having Zoom calls etc, but it did take its toll. We now only do small tours and mainly play at weekends. It’s taken the edge off and makes it a lot more enjoyable to play the shows. The other main problem that most bands suffer from is the hours and hours spent traveling and then waiting around between shows.
At the start of a tour, I use this time to explore my surroundings and really enjoyed going for walks and seeing new places. But by week five the novelty has worn off, that’s where the drinking out of boredom can become an issue and we have certainly had our fair share of messy moments where that has got out of hand! Luckily, we’re all good mates and aside from a couple of hiccups we don’t have too many fights or arguments. The key is to let each other have their space if needed. Having been together this long you can generally tell if someone is having a bad day and either needs a chat or just some space to sort their heads out for a while.
One day I’ll play something on guitar and the next day attempt to play again and it will sound terrible. I’ll get discouraged and stop playing for a little bit. What do you do on off days and how do you get inspired to play again?
I think we all do that mate! I’ve learnt over the years to just leave something alone if it starts overwhelming me. I’ve had many riffs and ideas that don’t seem to fit with anything else and I would get myself into a proper state, sometimes staying up half the night writing and recording stuff that never sounds right the next day. I now file any such ideas and try to forget about them for a while. Eventually something comes up and you go ahh! That will fit perfectly with that riff I wrote 32 years ago!
The song A Eulogy For The Damned is the one that I’m probably most proud of…
Do you have a song, or even part of a song, you’re particularly proud of writing?
The song A Eulogy For The Damned is the one that I’m probably most proud of and going back to the last question a bit, the riff at the end was also one of those that I had to sit on for a while as it just never seemed to fit anywhere and then suddenly I figured it out. I find it really therapeutic composing songs and ideas, it feels almost magical sometimes when it all comes together. There are loads of tracks that I’m proud of writing, or helping to write over the years, but from the latest album The Stranger and Ghosts Of The Primitive are two that I wrote all the music for and the guys were thankfully happy to keep without changing them too much.
I’m a big fan of the blues and I feel like you guys have a lot of blues elements in your music and guitar tone. What amps are you currently using to achieve your tone, and do they differ from studio recording to live?
I’m also a huge blues fan. In fact, I’d always imagined that by this age (I’m nearly 46) I would’ve given up all this crazy heavy metal nonsense and settled down playing small, dodgy bars in a blues band, spending my free time drinking cheap red wine and living on a barge. The only part that’s materialised so far though is the cheap red wine bit!
I’ve had a Marshall 900 and two Marshall 4 x 12 1960 cabs that I’ve used pretty much from the first album to the present day. Then by around the time we started A Eulogy For The Damned I swapped the head for a Marshall JVM210H that I used for the next couple of albums and for gigs. I’ve gone back to the Marshall 900 again now though. I’d forgotten how much I loved it! And felt bad for neglecting it for so long. I try not to mess around too much with the equipment when recording as I obviously want to reproduce the album sound live as close as possible.
Saying that, it’s very easy to get carried away with different amps/sounds etc when recording. On the last album, The Wolf Bites Back, Jamie Gomez, who produced the album, had me plugged into all sorts of amps and pedals. The results speak for themselves I think as I love the guitar sound he got on that album.
I’ve had a Marshall 900 and two Marshall 4 x 12 1960 cabs that I’ve used pretty much from the first album to the present day…
Pedals are an interesting topic with some guitarists collecting many different kinds while others taking the less is more approach. What pedals are you currently using and are any of them custom made for you?
I’m probably in the ‘less is more’ team to be honest. For years I only used a Jim Dunlop Wah, Boss Tuner and either a SansAmp GT2 or a Marshall Bluesbreaker 2 pedal. I wouldn’t even have a pedal board until my guitar tech got so fed up with me being so unprofessional that he made me one, so I had no choice but to keep it! Saying that I have tried many different pedals over the years, and I enjoy them a lot more now than I used to. My current set up is an Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer, an MXR Phase 90, a Morley Bad Horsie Wah and a Boss TU-2 Tuner. So not added too much really! I would really love to get hold of a good delay pedal so I’m researching those at the moment.
Lastly, we have reached the guitars. What kind of guitars do you have, and do you have one favorite guitar or an arsenal of guitars to choose from?
I have a bunch of guitars here at home but only really use my two Gibson SG Special’s for shows. I bought my White SG in 94 and really haven’t used much else in the last 26 years with Orange Goblin. She’s looking pretty old and tired to honest! The headstock has had to be glued back together twice (both from flight damage) and there’s a small hole in the body work where our old guitarist Pete once threw a dart at me and luckily missed but got the guitar! Lots and lots of scratches and she’s not so much white as a weird yellowy, mouldy cream colour these days. Poor old girl! But it oozes character!
The headstock has had to be glued back together twice and there’s a small hole in the body work where our old guitarist Pete once threw a dart at me…
Do you have a guitar, amp or pedal that you have had for a long time and will never part with?
I think the answer to the last question pretty much answers this one, me and that White Gibson SG are practically married! I also have a classical guitar that my dad bought some time in the early 70’s that I’ve been playing since I was a young kid, it seems to sound better and better every year, so I would never part with that.
Do you have a practice routine or warm-ups you do on a daily basis?
I’ll sometimes run through the pentatonic scale in groups of fives and try to build my speed up with a metronome to get my fingers warmed up. But what I enjoy most is to just stick on a Freddie King or Albert King album and just jam along. That really gets me fired up for a show.
It’s been a hell of a good ride so far so thanks to all of you for continuing to support us…
Thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. I really appreciate it. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’d like to thank you for inviting me to do this! And also to anyone reading this or who might follow Orange Goblin! It’s been a hell of a good ride so far so thanks to all of you for continuing to support us! Fingers crossed we can all start getting to normal again now and start playing, going to shows and being social again! We (Orange Goblin) have a load of shows coming up this year, and next, and hopefully a new album in the pipeline as well, so keep an eye on our website/FB page/Instagram page and all that stuff! Lastly to any young bands out there starting out. Don’t let this last year stop you following your dreams. Live music will be back! Never give up! And always, always have fun!
Interviewed by: Josh Schneider